Photography on the faint trods of Eryri…
…and a couple of more popular locations!
The past couple of days were meant to be filled with adventure on the mountain crags of Eryri; days spent ticking classics which have so far inexplicably eluded us. High on Grooved Arête we would look down on tiny cars travelling through the Ogwen Valley and smaller still, climbers far below on Tryfan Bach with our hands grasping holds of burnished rhyolite and our faces caressed by the zephyrs of an Indian summer. Idyllic, I’m sure you’ll agree. Sadly (if you care to look upon it that way) our holiday coincided with a visit from the back end of hurricane Katrina which I found to be a considerable bummer! The thing is though, sometimes it’s nice to return to origins and forget all about the acquisitive side of climbing, getting back to basics with a camera, some good honest bog trotting via a touch of heather bashing plus a dash of bracken bothering for good measure…and I’ll tell you why.
It’s September and the vegetation is on the turn, the air has a freshness not felt for many a long month and the light is starting to come good for the pursuit of mountain photography so, this time let’s just stick to walking the hills at the beginning of autumn, that fleeting but most heartbreakingly beautiful of seasons.
Before we set off let me tell you about a curious phenomenon we witnessed on our way through Nant y Benglog. The aforementioned Katrina was giving it plenty and upon rounding the foot of Tryfan’s north ridge we were surprised to see an enormous plume of spray issuing forth from the environs of Cwm Idwal, clearing the A5 and coming to rest in Llyn Ogwen. We just had to investigate and were soon struggling to stand upright on the path to the llyn. Once there it was all we could do to remain in contact with this wonderful planet of ours though once or twice we failed to do even that! Still, I managed to secure a couple of half decent snaps before escaping the maelstrom with my better half hot on my heels.
Ok folks, don’t tell her indoors but I was secretly thrilled when the weather forecast told of high winds interspersed with sunny spells and soggy interludes. Indeed, I wanted to go out and take some photographs while she who must be obeyed was keen on watching me poo my undies leading some exposed route or other in the Pass of Llanberis! “Never mind” I said, “We’ll go to Cnicht. You’ll like it there” and do you know what? She did. And what’s not to like eh?
Now then, rather than bore you with a blow by blow account of what in truth is a fairly tame hill walk I’ll take you with me instead. So, without further ado let us with a little regret leave the enchanted valley of Nantmor and find our way up into an aqueous wonderland.
Before long the path becomes faint and beyond Bwlch y Battel we come to a beautiful pool festooned with small islands. It’s tempting to tarry but we have hills to climb so on we go, up onto the higher ground where, upon reaching the crest we find another secluded fold in the landscape containing industrial relics. Men once worked their nethers off here but now it is quiet and nature is reclaiming the old workings, amongst which we’ll sit for a while, considering our transience and imagining the ghosts that inhabit this place.
Then onwards; a steep pull onto Cnicht’s west ridge where we drink in a spectacular view. Across the deep trench of Cwm Croesor we have Moelwyn Mawr and scanning the horizon from left to right we take in Tremadog Bay, the Hebog group, Nantlle Ridge and the mighty Snowdon Massif before our eyes come to rest upon a shapely pyramid. Hewn over many millennia from the living rock and displaying an archetypal mountain form, our Cnicht is a magnet for even the most footsore of travellers and we are no exception. The going becomes more airy with every step until our way is seemingly barred by a precipitous little crag buttressing the summit cone.
We know there is a good path just out of sight and also a scrambly groove for those who like to clamber but it won’t hurt to have a little look at this ‘other’ way will it? Of course not and we’re glad we did. You should too if you have the experience and the rock is dry.
All too soon we’re stood on Cnicht’s small summit and a new set of delights await us. Cnicht is a very fine little hill but what lies beyond is the reason I am so often called back to be with her. A boggy hinterland of low hills and countless llynau stretches out all the way to Moel Siabod and we can’t wait to explore it. So what are we waiting for?
Once off the beaten track we’re welcomed into a whole new world; a world where worries are distant; a better world and one I am always reluctant to leave. Is there a better place to be than beside Llyn yr Adar? I doubt it. It may not be the most beautiful llyn in Eryri but it is the one that calls most insistently to me over the miles that in everyday life keep us apart. I love it here and were my ashes not destined for old Siabod then here they would be sprinkled. But then again, wills can be re-written!
For the rest of the day we’ll wander at will over hillocks, through secret recesses, beside shy pools and larger bodies of water until our feet are wet and our bellies rumble as only they can after a satisfying day out in mountain country. Then we’ll squelch back down to Nantmor past Llyn Llagi and through a maze of natural rock gardens and at the car we’ll know that one day we’ll be back, but before then we’ll return in our mind’s eye to Cnicht and experience its magic all over again.
Over the coming days and nights there will be more quiet and some not so quiet places we’ll go to but I’ll leave them to your imagination, though, if imaginings are not your thing then please enjoy these images and let them inspire you to get ya boots on!